3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

I’m assuming most of you typically play sets of tunes in your regular sessions. About three tunes per set, either three times each; or two times on a tune with more than the usual AABB.

My question is, ‘if and when a tune is played more than 3 times, do you even do this?’ I realise it helps reduce trainwrecks if everyone in the session knows when to expect a new tune change. So, the norm of three times makes practical sense. But I appreciate when 3Xs is just not enough & everyone gets the clue to "play it again"; sometimes more than once (4,5 or more).

It’s not too difficult to extend one tune in a set, unless it is not usually done in a session. Lately my regular session has tended to do the 3tunes 3Xs… But last night hell broke loose; & I liked it. A few tunes were played the usual number of times & a particular box player wanted to keep those tunes going 4 or 5 times. It was refreshing to break the mold. I think there may have been mixed emotions but it seemed to me the extended play tunes got some well deserved attention & the session (as a whole) felt more comfortable in playing those tunes, more times.

Have you experienced this in your regular session? Is three times per tune enough or does your session sometimes play a tune several times & the experience improves with each time? Sure it doesn’t always work. But do you stick to a fixed number of repeats "every" night or do you change it up sometimes?

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Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Often only twice in our sessions, but that’s if everyone seems to know the tune. If someone’s introducing a new tune, however, and people are just starting to catch on 2nd or 3rd time through, you might reasonable suggest, "AGAIN"! (You’ll take it from that that our session ethos does not preclude the introduction of new tunes that, Heaven preserve us, someone might not know already! :-) )

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Trish, when you’re saying a new tune is introduced and people are ‘catching on’ by the 2nd or 3rd time through what exactly does that mean? I’m not that good at learning a new tune after hearing it played a few times through. If you mean the tune will come back in future sessions or the person introducing the tune can get with you after the session or whatever I can appreciate keeping the session’s momentum going. I’m just hoping a new tune can be heard more than 2 or 3 times through, if that is acceptable in your session?

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Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

She must have meant 2 or three times through in one set -

The more you pick up by ear - the quicker it gets - the more phrases you have already mastered means that some tunes are easily picked up the first time you hear them.

I know you play at a sheet music sesh - I’d advise avoiding using the stuff in a session. If someone has played a tune regularly for years and still uses the music in front of them then it is, by that point, a placebo.

You might be amazed at the propensity for us to learn tunes by ear quickly, the more we do it and let our fingers guide us (but don’t “noodle” loudly when others are playing of course)!

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

As for more than 3x through - it’s great when everyone is really enjoying a tune and can often increase the intensity of a tune if everyone is giving it a bit more feeling the next time through!

At some sessions there are common tunes for playing through many times and adding variations each time - and some sessions where creative variations are the aim of the night!

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Good grief! What a fuss! Go with the flow, persue the nyah, listen to all the other people playing, turn on autopilot, picture yourself on a boat on a river…

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

It all depends on who you’re playing with. If you’re playing with a small group and having a conversation, ten times through can feel like not enough. On the other end of the spectrum, in a mega session of 40 people, sometimes three times around seems like too much.

I suppose function also plays a role. I can’t imagine playing any tune more than 5 times for a ceili, excepting the Miss McCloud Set. Similarly, changes are one of the easiest aspects of the music for uneducated ears. You might play tunes only twice through.

Certain tunes lend themselves to more times around than others as well. The Battering Ram is usually nicest turned over once whereas most single reels are begging to be played 4,5,6 times. The only tune I can think of that I would only play once would be something massive, like Joe Derrane’s Showman’s Fancy. Even the Monaghan jig is nice a few times over.

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Depends. Under normal session rules, yes, three times through for a double reel and no more than three or four tunes to a set. (Single reels at least four or five times through, unless they’ve got four parts in which case only the ‘usual’ three). Certain tunes, especially multi-part tunes (e.g. Lord Gordon’s, Gold Ring, Johnny Cope etc.) I might only play twice, and probably wouldn’t join them to another tune.

However…

the big exception to this is when I’m playing with close friends, as opposed to your average sesh with strangers. Normal rules don’t apply here, so if a tune is rolling along, there’s no reason I wouldn’t play it five, six times or more as long as everyone is happy playing it and there’s some new facet of the tune to explore the next time through. As with everything in ITM, context is probably key…

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

If you feel it why not?

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Usually, it is three times in an Irish session and twice in a Scottish session.
Scottish dance bands and some fiddle societies sometimes will play a tune only once!

Sometimes, once is enough for a 4 part or longer tune when part of a set but not necessarily when it’s played on its own.

Having said all that, many tunes cry out to be played several times but, generally, these would stand alone as opposed to being part of a set.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop anyone doing what they like as long as everyone is in agreement.

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

In answer to AB, I was talking about playing a "new" tune just as part of a set in a session, and did indicate that, as it’s new at least to some of the players, you might want to play it more than 2 or 3 times. And yes, if people like the tune, it could be done again at future sessions. This can apply whether you are doing it by ear or from books (and I’m not going to pursue the merits of one against the other again - it has been discussed many a time and oft elsewhere!)

Also discussed elsewhere, and not that long ago, is the make-up of sets, which do seem to follow a much more rigid and prescribed pattern in at least some of the ITM session "rules" described above, compared with our Scottish ones, which can vary from place to place, and even in the same venue depending who suggests which tunes.

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

In my experience, Irish sessions also vary from place to place and in the same venue, just as your description of the Scottish sessions. The times I HAVE found a rigid approach (such as 3 times per tune) have been at festivals where people don’t know each other but want some kind of structure and common ground. Sets are often copied from albums, and thus get played exactly like that. Classic sets may also be played as on the original recording.

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Looks like I’ve lost my copy of the Session Rule Book again. Can someone send me a link to a new one?

Really, and in my opinion, the time to exit a tune is when you, and the group are done with it. Some tunes are just great to play. Sometimes a tune just brings out the connection between players that causes us to want to play together at all. It may be something new and exciting or it may just be an old chestnut, it’s the community that’s more important than the tune. I like to play the tune until I’ve reached that point where I know that one more time would be too much. It’s not the same tune each time and hard to pin down the "when" of it, but it does happen.

Other tunes, well, sometimes just aren’t that exciting, just aren’t bringing out the vibe. Play ‘em once or twice and move on. Too, there are times when it’s not the tunes as much as it is about finding the intimacy that allows us, as players, to put a string of them together on the fly. There a lot of permutations here. Of course the requirement here is that the players have a good connection with each other. It’s my feeling that a "two or three times, three to a set" happens when the session lacks the "magic". That’s not to say the session can’t be enjoyable, just not memorable. Sometimes predictability helps avoid chaos and that’s a good thing.

One last thing, I find the tendency to play "standard" sets, either unique to the group or the classic sets, to be a bit annoying. I suspect it’s a way to avoid taking the time to create a community. Or sometimes when a session is populated largely by a "band", the band’s tune book is what gets played, tune by tune, set by set. I really enjoy it when I go to a new session (not that often sadly) because I don’t know what’s coming next and have to, make that get to, find the connection. Yeah, I know, mine is a romantic notion, but it’s my notion and I like it.

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

We have no rules. We change tunes when the person calling the set indicates the change is coming. We play as many tunes in a set as we like after the called tunes have been played. No rule, just right.

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Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Of course sessions vary. Sorry if I implied any more than that. I was not suggesting rules need to be applied.
But it helps to hear from Trish and Johnny Jay about typical ways (and number of Xs) tunes are played in sets.

What I was getting at is how refreshing it was playing tunes several times (more than the usual 2 or 3).
This is how I cut my teeth playing sessions. When I first began playing (smaller) sessions we would play tunes with little to no concern about how many times through. It was always at least 3Xs (2Xs through is a recent experience in my session playing). Back then we would frequently play 6Xs or more. It helped me get into a tune. And I appreciated those sessions for that experience. There is nothing wrong with playing tunes a certain number of times, which is how our session has tended playing sets in the past year. But our last two regular sessions have had a few players join us who have not been around for some time. I couldn’t help but notice a few things
(like extending play) which I appreciate doing with the players who I learnt sessioning with; now they have
come out of the woodwork again.

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Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

I played a set last night at a house session, single reels, each played 6 times maybe. Why not? they’re short, it sounded good, I only had two tunes in mind. With a hearty HUP! everyone knows when to switch or stop. took me awhile to learn to HUP! and play at the same time though.

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

HUP! Way to go!

Re: 3Xs+ playing a tune more times?

Way to go! Right on! Dig it!

I don’t know what just happened, but I’m learning to not care about replies on The Mustard too much.

sigh!

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